Sunday Lowdown #200


Do you see that? Sunday Lowdown #200! That’s 200 Sundays you and I have spent together. The first Lowdown appeared back when I was reading all the Valdemar books. Actually, there is a new Valdemar book this year that I need to get my hands on, so I just paused what I was typing now, got on the library site, and put it on hold. What can I say, I like to get rid of mental sticky notes as fast as possible.

Have you noticed weird spam on your WordPress blog lately? I had a comment by Asphyxia and one by Bill go straight to the spam jail, where I found that most of the comments were either disturbing porn and weird-looking links, or they were something like, “I enjoyed this post and book marked your site!” Which . . . sounds pretty normal to me. But I can see the hyperlink in the username is incredibly spammy. So, look out for what you approve when it comes to new comments! Most of the spam comments on are my Dietland review. And what did that book ever do to anyone?? (Other than convince me to quit wearing makeup and be happy and try to overthrow the patriarchy). Now they are on specifically one Meet the Writer interview, for Barb Taub, to whom I have not written in many years. Maybe her blog got hacked?

I’m on the last week of classes before final exams. Largely, I’m trying to catch up on reading for interpreting ethics, and there are two videos about power, privilege, and oppression that I still need to see. I’ve been thinking more about who an interpreter should align herself with: the Deaf consumer, the hearing consumer, the entity that hired her, the agency, or herself. While my “duh” answer was the Deaf consumer, because they are the most powerless person (meaning more likely to face oppression and discrimination) in the situation, but it’s not so easy as all that.

I’m also doing research on mental health and volunteer firefighters in the U.S. compared to career firefighters. This is my topic for my ASL final, so it must all be signed. I’m discovering some scary facts, such as just how many firefighting units are completely volunteer run because the community is too small to financially support hiring anyone. Also, just how firefighting affects volunteer and career people differently, for a host of reasons. I’ll research this more next week during finals, when there is no regular class held, and give you more info in Sunday Lowdown #201. This topic was inspired by my father-in-law, who was a volunteer firefighter in a tiny town on the coast of a Great Lake, and as a result, he was often on the water rescue team. If you live near a Great Lake, you know that pretty much no one is rescued, they are recovered. In the last couple of years, suddenly his PTSD is much worse, and I want to know more about it so I can be appropriately supportive.

On Tuesday it was just warm enough that I dared to ride my bicycle. Careening down the road, listening to Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey, I was just irritated. Garvey, for those who don’t know, was a Jamaican man who came to the States and started the United Negro Improvement Association. He also campaigned to raise funds to build a ship that would sail African Americans back to Africa. Anyway, the audiobook narrator sounds like a tech person took old radio recordings of the now deceased Casey Kasem, put them through an AI software thingy, and had it “read” Marcus Garvey’s speeches. You can imagine how startling the sound is. Like, I’m feeling excited for the Top 40 Hits, but I’m also lacking the passion characteristic of anyone with a pulse. It’s the uncanny, is what it is. Like Mark Zuckerberg’s face.


It’s soft, it’s floofy, it’s emotionally low stakes. Truly, the Bottom Dollar trilogy by Karin Gillespie is great for a road trip. Anyone in the car will laugh, but you could also let your attention drift and come back to it, too. Don’t forget that Gillespie has some novels that aren’t hefty, but do lead to dialogue, including Love Literary Style.


Look at that huge Stephen Graham Jones quote on the cover of Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste. I’ve met Graham Jones in person and during an online reading, both through my old college. While he’s a lovely man, and I appreciate his horror fanaticism, I don’t get on with his books, and I don’t agree with his blurb, which suggests Kiste’s novel has some insane scares or some deep message. In a way, it reads more like satire. Check out the review Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 186
Owned Books on TBR Today: 184

Thanks to Bill for bringing Davidson’s novel to my attention.


  1. So there’s going to be a feature film of Tracks now. I’ve seen a documentary which was great.

    I must check my SPAM folder again. I haven’t for a while, but every now and then there is something there .

    Re firefighters, It’s an issue here because most (many) of our rural firefighters are volunteer, which is sustainable with one-in-a-few-years by fires, but not so with some of the summers we have had recently. I look forward to your research.


    • I didn’t realize the Tracks movie was forthcoming, especially since the book is older. I wonder what took them so long to make the call.

      I think the thing with volunteer firefighters is similar to what you said — they live in remote areas that cannot sustain a whole department with taxes alone.


  2. Tracks is a memoir and you’ll love it. I don’t think Davidson is clear about her own motivations. I hope you review it soon.

    Your post reminded me I should check my own spam. Bron was stuck in there for some reason, along with all the “you are a really great writer” from weird addresses (and one lonely girl).

    Australian firefighters are mostly volunteer in the country and employed in the cities, though the volunteer services have a core of professionals.


    • I’ll read Tracks soon, as I do get the urge to read Australian books every so often to connect with you, Sue, and others. To get a better sense of your lives and history, your geography and politics, etc.

      Yes, American volunteer firefighters are largely in rural areas that don’t have enough taxes to fund their own station and equipment. I often see fundraisers for these stations, including firefighter calendars. Oh, boy!


  3. “And what did that book ever do to anyone?? (Other than convince me to quit wearing makeup and be happy and try to overthrow the patriarchy).”

    Oh this made me laugh! You just slipped it in, no big deal 😀

    And then I laughed even more about the Casey Kasem and AI software reader! OMG I can totally imagine how that sounds! Also Mark Zuckerberg’s face. You were on a roll this week!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your volunteer firefighter research. It sounds really interesting and really sad.


    • This week I tried to include stuff to my Lowdown throughout the week instead of sitting there on Saturday and trying to force. Every time I use this method, my post comes out more “me” than when I don’t, so I need to keep it up.

      I will definitely share more about the firefighters. It seems everyone is interested for various reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I get weird spam messages too but mostly ignore them and haven’t noticed them attached to any particular post.

    Your firefighting topic sounds fascinating. All of our firefighters here are volunteer (though maybe the chief is a paid position?). We have separate groups though for Search & Rescue and those are divided by land and sea. My father-in-law volunteers for the ocean S&R and although they do get to do a lot of successful rescues, I know he’s had some rough ones too.


    • It sounds like your father-in-law does a lot of what my father-in-law used to do. I hope that he is comfortable seeking a peer counselor, Telehealth, or therapy as needed. Based on what I’m reading, there’s a lot of perceived stigma that new firefighters feel, but that veterans do not.


  5. 200! What a milestone. That’s super exciting. Congrats. And it’s crazy to think that we started the Valdemar journey before even these posts started…

    Speaking of, thanks for the reminder that Into the West is out now. I also reserved it from the library. I can’t believe I’m 45th in line when the book isn’t even out yet! This actually makes me really happy for Lackey. I’m glad she has such a dedicated following of readers!

    Spam is getting so much worse these days. It’s getting more sophisticated. This is what happened to DbT. The spam overtook it and I didn’t have the skills (or the finances?) to resurrect it. I hope that you can get ahead of this! Have Nick (or someone techy) do some digging to make certain the spam isn’t dumping malware in the background. Save GtL!

    I HATE bad audiobooks. I’m listening to Psalm for the Wild Built right now and it’s a beautifully read book… but every 10-15 minutes there is something funky with the audio. Like they re-recorded chunks of the book in a different studio. Just enough to pull me out of the reading. It’s so sad because the narration is perfect in every other way.


    • I do wonder what’s up with your library system that there can even BE 45 people in line. That’s an indication that the library system is not buying enough copies to support the readership. Even when you were reading old Lackey books, there was a line, which is bizarre.

      I think the spam will be okay. I don’t self-host, and it’s all going to the spam folder in WordPress. I wondered if you were able to fix DbT. I actually unfollowed your blog because at one point you implied that it was possible for visitors to your site to get a virus, so I yelled, “ACK!” and ran away. If all is fixed, let me know and I will follow you again, OF COURSE.

      Yes! About the audiobooks, I know what you mean. I wonder if the engineer is fussing with the dials and somehow make it sound like the narrator came back the next day or switched studios or something. I know exactly to what you are referring.


  6. I’m interested to hear more about your research with the firefighters! Sounds like an important subject.

    I thought you might like to know that I am just starting a new research project looking at the experiences of d/Deaf student nurses when accessing clinical placement! I think we will have to expand to include other disabilities, at least to start with, but it came out of a conversation with a Deaf student in one of my classes. Several of my students have also joined the university’s sign language society so they are learning BSL!


    • Oh, goodness, Lou! That’s amazing! I read about a Deaf nurse in the UK who faced so many barriers, but did become successful. Helen Cherry — you may want to look her up. She has a few articles out there. What’s interesting is that people think ASL is English in signed form, but ASL is actually based on French Sign Language. When an American priest went to England to learn more about sign language, they wouldn’t help him, feeling they were somehow giving away trade secrets. So, in France he was assisted by a monk and his students, and one of the students went back to the U.S. to help set up the first Deaf school. Thus, when someone signs BSL and ASL, they look NOTHING alike.


  7. Oh Ducks! I so want to read that one, in fact, I had tickets to see Kate Beaton here in Calgary a few weeks ago, but a blizzard came upon us that night, and I opted to not leave the house. yes, I live in downtown calgary, and yes, I felt bad about not attending (although I had pre-paid for my ticket, so at least I was still supporting in some way), but I didn’t want to get in a car accident LOL


    • It’s best to be safe, for sure. I absolutely looooove Kate Beaton’s book Step Aside, Pops! Her love of classic lit and bringing it to life in silly ways really makes me want to read more classic lit. My favorite line is from a comic she did about Wuthering Heights, in which a character walks in, and there is Healthcliff, being all gloomy and pining away, as he is wont to do, and the woman shouts something like, “Ugh, who’s brooding in here!?”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I would be very interested in what you discover in your research on firefighters. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s a field I don’ t think about too often. Of course, if my house caught on fire, I would be calling them ASAP so that’s not very fair of me. I also think it’s great that you’re learning more in order to help your father-in-law. ❤


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